Water issues seminar to be part of Idaho Farm Bureau annual meeting

Capital Press

State and regional water issues are to be discussed in a joint seminar slated as part of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation’s Dec. 6-8 annual meeting in Boise.

The seminar is scheduled at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 6 at the Riverside Hotel, 2900 Chinden Blvd. The Farm Bureau, the Idaho Water Users Association and the state Grain Producers Association will host it.

It is expected to be well attended as it will provide important updates and background information on major water issues, said Sean Ellis, a Farm Bureau spokesman.

The Nez Perce Agreement and issues in the Snake and Columbia river basins — including legal challenges to a fisheries-related biological opinion on the four Lower Snake River dams — are among topics to be addressed.

A 2004 agreement between Idaho and the Nez Perce Tribe addresses the tribe’s water-rights claims in the Snake River Basin Adjudication, which concluded in 2014.

In the Salmon and Clearwater river basins, the agreement’s primarily goal is to conserve and enhance fish habitat to address Endangered Species Act concerns, according to the state Department of Water Resources. It established state minimum flows.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries unit, in a final report released Sept. 30, said breaching Lower Snake dams is key to restoring salmon and steelhead runs. Agricultural stakeholders said the recommendation failed to consider greater impacts on the environment and the economy. A shipping channel the dams create stretches to eastern Washington and Lewiston, Idaho.

Also at Farm Bureau’s annual meeting, sessions are slated on state-led annual recharge of the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer, agricultural technology, farm safety, and evaluating businesses and investments based on environmental, social and governance factors.

The meeting usually draws about 300 people. Voting delegates consider changes and additions to Farm Bureau’s policy book. They are likely to discuss farmland preservation this year, Ellis said.

Information and registration: Cara Dyer, 208-239-4235 or cdyer@idahofb.org.

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